Introduction to Islam

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Islam and Muslims

Islam is an Arabic word which in English means peace, purity, obedience, submission and commitment. Thus, Islam is submission to the will of God. A Muslim is one who completely surrenders himself/herself to God and accepts the Divine Commandments. Mohammadanism is a misnomer for Islam because it implies the worship of prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him (PBUH). Allah is the Arabic word for God, also used by Arabic speaking Christians.

Continuity of the Message

Islam is the last of divine messages revealed to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), calling for belief in the oneness of God. It is the same religion which God revealed to all His messengers.

“Say, We believe in God and in what has been revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and the tribes, and in (Scriptures) given to Moses, Jesus and the prophets, from their Lord: we make no distinction between one and an other among them and to God do we submit”. The Quran 3:84

Basic Beliefs

A Muslim believes in the oneness of God, all His messengers, scriptures, angels, the day of judgment, life after death and human beingÂ’s accountability for their words and deeds.

Oneness of God

Islam reaffirms faith in the unity and sovereignty of God which makes human being aware of the meaningfulness of the universe and their place in it. It frees them from fears and superstitions. It makes them conscious of the presence of Almighty God and their obligations towards Him. This faith must be reflected and translated into actions. Belief in one God necessitates one to look upon the whole of humanity as one family under the universal benevolence of God, the common Creator and Nourisher of all. Islam rejects the idea of a chosen people. Islam makes faith in God and good action the sole key to salvation and success in this life as well in the life to come. It established a direct relationship with God open to anyone without any intercessor.

Human beings, the finest Creation

Human beings are the finest and highest creation of God. They are makers of their own destiny and are free in their will, action and choice. God has shown them the right path and the teachings of Prophets Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and the life of Mohammad (PBUT) bear the best testimony of His message. A human beingÂ’s success lies in following the divine message and the teachings of His messengers. Islam stands for human dignity, equality, justice and freedom.

The Quran

The Quran is the last revealed message of God to humanity. It is the basic source of divine laws. It explains the basics of creed, morality, history of humanity, knowledge, relationship between God and human beings and human relationship in all walks of life. The Quran provides the guidance for institutionalizing social, economic and political justice. It was revealed to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) over a period of twenty three years.

The Sunnah

The life of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) embodies the teaching of the Quran. His words and actions, sunnah, are sources of guidance to Muslims and are the cornerstones of the faith.

Concept of Worship

To worship God is to know Him, love Him, act upon His laws in all walks of life, enjoin goodness and forbid evil, and serve Him by serving human beings. The Quran emphasizes on the purity of intention and action.

“It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards East or West; but it is righteousness to believe in God and the Day of Judgment and the angels and the scriptures and the messengers; to spend of your wealth, out of love for Him, for your kin, for orphans, for the needy, for setting slaves free, to observe prayers and give charity; to fulfill the contracts which you have made and in adversity, and time of stress ; such are those who are sincere. Such are God conscious”. The Quran 2:177.

Five Pillars of Islam

The Profession of Faith, Shahada:

One who decides to become a Muslim professes the oneness of God and the mission of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) by saying “I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship but God and Mohammad is His servant and messenger.”

The Prayer, Salat:

Islam prescribes prayers five times a day as a duty towards God. The prayer is a means to strengthen and enliven the belief in one God. It inspires human beings to be responsible and vigilant against evils and immorality.

Almsgiving, Zakat:

Islam asks its followers to give two and a half percent (2 1/2 %) of their net savings as Zakat to be spent on the poor and the needy. This precept teaches that what belongs to the individual also belongs to the community in the ultimate sense.

Fasting the month of Ramadan, Siyam:

The fasting is abstention from food, drink and sexual intercourse from dawn to dusk and avoid all evil intentions and desires during the month of Ramadan.

Pilgrimage, Hajj:

Muslims are required to visit inviolate mosque in Makkah for Hajj at least once in their lifetime if they can afford the trip financially and physically. The purpose is to pay tribute to Prophet Abraham, the patriarch of all monotheistic religions.

Most Commonly Asked Questions

What is Jihad?

The concept of Jihad (which means striving) has
been widely misunderstood in the West and is incorrectly translated as “Holy War” (no war is holy). Jihad refers to striving for excellence on several levels. The first two involve personal and individual spiritual and intellectual efforts to become a better Muslim. The second addresses efforts to improve society. The third and last level involves self-defense or fighting against oppression. Even on the battlefield, Islam teaches that civilians, women, children, noncombatants and religious figures are not to be harmed. Islam makes clear that there is no compulsion in religion (i.e. people cannot be converted by force or coercion).

How does Islam treat women?

Islam does not discriminate against men or women because of their gender, Islam recognizes that both men and women, though different, have equal responsibility before God and humanity at large.
And both believing men and women are protectors of (or in charge) of one another: they (all) enjoin
the doing of what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong. The Quran 9:71

Who is Mohammad?

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) is a prophet of Islam .He was born into a noble Arab family in the year 570 A.D. in the city of Makkah in Arabia. He received the first divine revelation through Angel Gabriel at the age of forty. He was persecuted by the Makkans for calling to worship one God. He completed his mission of prophet-hood over 23 years. He died at the age of 63.

Say (O Prophet): I am only a man like you. It has been revealed to me that your God is the one and only God. Hence, whoever looks forward to meeting his Sustainer (on judgment day), let him do righteous deeds and in the worship of His Lord admit no one as His partner. The Quran 18:110

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